The road can be hard on a driver’s body. The long hours sitting behind the wheel are not just exhausting, but can also be physically demanding over time—sitting for hours on end, unlike manual labor, does not build strength or endurance, yet can cause physical stress. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals high rates of obesity among long-haul truck drivers. Obesity can be the catalyst for other health related issues including sleep apnea, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
With Hours of Service, drivers are regulated to properly record their working hours. Yet, to arrive to the base of operation, many drivers commute from their home or other place of rest to begin their workday. The commute and any extra hours on the road only add to the intense driving schedules many drivers already work. These long hours can develop into dangerous driving habits and safety hazards initiated by fatigue.
Many times, it is unknown how often drivers commit long commutes to arrive to their place of work. That is why Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has introduced legislation that would, among other things, require a study of excessive commuting to properly analyze the risks drivers face upon arriving at, and departing from, their full day’s work. There have been serious, even fatal accidents in which driver exhaustion was the root cause of the accident.
Some carriers are combating driver fatigue by incorporating a GPS tracking solution that can help route deliveries quickly to reduce drive time, and remotely program a driver’s in-vehicle navigation to select the best routes. The technology can also allow route assignments to drivers who are already in the area of delivery, instead of dispatching the job to a driver who is hours away. By helping drivers route their jobs in real-time, the extra driving burden can be lifted from the driver.
Keeping drivers informed and guided while they are on the road can also help reduce stress and improve efficiency. With a two-way messaging system, communication between driver, dispatch, and a fleet manager are open and direct. Not only can dispatchers send updated routes to drivers via a two-way communication tool, but drivers can also send automatic updates to the office in case they are delayed in a job-site arrival, departure, or other details of the job that are critical for a fleet manager to be updated on in real-time.
Senator Booker’s proposal for a study on driver commuting is still in the works. But for now, drivers don’t need to be alone on the road. With easy routing and two-way messaging tools, a team can stay connected no matter how many miles are between them. The more smooth and efficiently run a workday is, the better a driver can handle long commutes and demanding work schedules.